Briefly Noted: Letters, Obituaries, Reviews & Misc. (Vol. 1.4)

In Memoriam: George Sessions

George Sessions was one of the major eco-philosophers behind deep ecology, the flagship ideology of radical environmentalism. He recently died quietly in his home, as was announced by The Trumpeter, a deep ecology journal. Live wild, die wild, George Sessions.

In Memoriam: Harambe, the Gorilla

Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo, was recently shot to protect a 5-year-old child who had somehow made it into the gorilla’s cage. The western lowland is a critically endangered species. The event provoked many discussions about the value of human life compared to the value of non-humans: humanists sided with the child; progressive eco-centrists generally sided with the gorilla. Few seemed to offer a wildness-centered approach to the issue. For instance, perhaps the most appalling thing about the Harambe debacle wasn’t his death, but his caged life. Perhaps his death is a symbol of artificial domination worth getting angry about, regardless of our moral attitudes toward him specifically. Thankfully, at least some of these points were articulated well by Carl Safina in “Harambe the Gorilla — A Symptom of Our Deeper Dysfunction.” Live wild, die wild, Harambe.

Review: A New Conservation Politics by David Johns

Johns’ guide is best suited to new eco-radicals and those focused more on using or exploiting traditional organizing tools, like rallies. However, it also has some excellent points regarding myth-making and maintaining a close circle of political associates. Along with Foreman’s Eco-Defense, it is one of the best conservation-oriented tactical guides available. Those who would like to be sufficiently well-read on the subject might also read The Organizational Weapon by Philip Selznick (FREE) and Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky (FREE).

Review: Understanding Terror Networks by Marc Sageman

Sageman’s book is mostly oriented toward those seeking to understanding Jihadi terrorism. It offers a little bit of information about Jihadist strategy, specifically Al-Qaeda’s strategy, but other than that the focus is on the origins, ideology, and people behind the networks. I recommend reading The Organizational Weapon by Philip Selznick(FREE) first, since it will reveal the purpose of some Jihadi behaviors.

Review: Jihadi Violence: A Study of Al-Qaeda’s Media Strategy by Andreas Armborst

This book gives a much more personal look at Al-Qaeda than Sageman’s, because it stands firmly on first-hand sources that are often shared in the text without any edits. I skimmed most of this book because large portions were irrelevant or things I had already read. However, I consider reading this book a landmark in my understanding of Al-Qaeda and how they work. I strongly recommend reading The Organizational Weapon by Philip Selznick (FREE) first.

Review: Confessions of an Eco-Warrior by Dave Foreman

Not much in Confessions was new for me. I had already read most of the chapters that were originally standalone texts, and Earth First!: Environmental Apocalypse by Martha Lee had already covered all the information in the book, and more. Since I only read this book for a research essay on Earth First!, I only recommend it to individuals in a similar situation. Those simply seeking for general knowledge had best go with a less-biased and more expansive account, like Lee’s.

Review: The Idea of Biodiversity: Philosophies of Paradise by David Takacs

Takacs’ book had many flaws: it was repetitive, it was entirely too postmodern, its analysis was somewhat naïve… However, I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to understanding the origins of the term “biodiversity” and the history of conservation biology, specifically those seeking to understand the networks operating behind-the-scenes. The interview sections are by far the most interesting parts of the book. I recommend paying special attention while reading chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 4 is worth reading, although I disagree with Tacaks’ claims. Everything else was alright, but is not necessary to read. Skip chapter 5 if you are already familiar with environmental ethics and some of its core arguments. Skip all sections where Tacaks tries to explain the purpose of the book, which he does about fifteen times.

Review: Eco-Warriors, Nihilistic Terrorists, and the Environment by Lawrence E. Likar

I highly recommend this book. It is useful for several reasons, not least of all because it presents a thorough overview of eco-terrorism as it has expressed itself so far. It even mentions lesser known events, such as James Lee’s takeover of the Discovery Channel, during which he demanded more shows about the ongoing environmental crisis—an event that has uncanny parallels to the story line of the recent movie Money Monster. I recommend skipping chapters 7 and 8.

Review: The Coming Anarchy by Robert Kaplan. Published in The Atlantic.

Strongly recommended. Kaplan analyzes global politics while theoretically privileging demography, geography, and other aspects of nature—the kind of analysis I employ in my own writings. Typically with these kinds of analyses, Kaplan’s article was branded with a schlew of epithets: biological determinism, geographic determinism, Malthusianism, and even racism. Consider all the criticisms Jared Diamond received for Guns, Germs, and Steel and one has a rough approximation of the kind of criticism that Kaplan received: that is to say, nothing of too much note.

Kaplan argues that the world of the next century will be one of declining states and “shifting centers of power” like during the Middle Ages. As a result, the primary threats will be from the frontiers, the wilderness areas, the regions of failed states, the empty lands; warfare, as Van Creveld, one of the analysts he quoted, put it, “will have more in common with the struggles of primitive tribes than with large-scale conventional war.” Kaplan explained this further: “It is important to point that what Van Creveld really means is re-primitivized man: warrior societies operating at a time of unprecedented resource scarcity and planetary overcrowding.” Recall Dave Foreman’s call: “It’s time for a warrior society to rise up out of the earth and throw itself in front of the juggernaut of destruction, to be antibodies against the human pox that’s ravaging this precious, beautiful planet.”

Interestingly, Kaplan’s analysis is very similar to my own predictions in “Refuting the Apartheid Alternative” (HG 1.2). I wrote there about the possible appearance of “civilized islands,” blessed with all sorts of high technology, while on the outskirts, that is to say, most other regions of the world, there will be continuing conflict, tribal, cultural, and racial in character, leaving open the possibility for eco-modernists to make conservation a governmental philosophy, a justification for and means by which these new wildernesses can be fenced off from the refuseniks and new savages.

Because of these similarities, I will soon be reading more of Kaplan’s works and possibly writing a full-fledged review of them. If anyone else is up for the task, I encourage them to look at the newsletter submission guidelines and notify me through email.

Announcement: Marcellus Biodiversity Project

Some friends from an Earth First! group have started the Marcellus Biodiversity Project. Their homepage explains it thusly:

The Marcellus Biodiversity Project’s mission is to identify and protect threatened ecosystems within the Marcellus Shale from gas development through educational events and citizen science. We hope to engage with a broad range of people in participating in our events and surveys, with the intent of educating and instilling a desire to protect the natural beauty and inherent value of the forests. We hope to develop our skills as scientists and work with experts to create peer-reviewed studies regarding the value and natural history of the Loyalsock’s biodiversity.

Announcement: Regresion #5 Published in English

The fifth issue of the eco-extremist magazine Regresion is now available in English. Please be aware that, depending on your circumstance, you may want to use the Tor web browser or the TAILS operating system to access this site. Also, it is common while using either Tor or TAILS to turn off the internet when opening downloaded PDF files.

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